A massive tunnelling machine has been lowered into position around 20 metres below ground at Beckton sewage treatment works. ‘Beckton Becky’ will dig a 750 metre tunnel below the works over the next two months, so effluent can be transported from the old site to the new site extension.

Beckton Sewage treatment works in London has been undergoing some major refurbishments and renovation works over the last year, which when complete will enable the plant to cope with around 60% more sewage. It is hoped that the ability to cope with the greater volumes of sewage will stop the site becoming overloaded and discharging sewage into the River Thames.

The expansion of the works will also enable the treatment of additional sewage when the Lee Tunnel is completed.

Thames Water’s head of delivery, Nick Fawcett stated:

“The lowering of ‘Beckton Becky’ is another important milestone towards our goal of creating a cleaner, healthier River Thames, by dealing with the unacceptable problem of sewage discharges into the river during heavy rainfall.

“Although our sewage works operate well under stable, dry weather conditions, in heavy rainfall when the site is overwhelmed, excess flows receive a lower standard of treatment and overflow into the tidal stretches of the River Thames.

“As well as expanding the site, we’re also be erecting odour-blocking covers over all 16 primary settlement tanks at the plant – an area the size of 10 football pitches, and installing ‘odour-control units’ at the site to clean outgoing air, so we can substantially reduce odour emissions.”

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